DMing 101 – Politics
As your world develops, inevitably you’ll find yourself building a more complex and intricate system of governing its’ peoples. Monarchs, Emperors and Tyrants cannot rule without a court to advise and enact their dictatorship; a government may be at the mercy of criminal gangs, in the pocket of corporations; even barbarous clans will have old friendships and rivalries that could change the dynamics across the steppes where they rule.
What better way to demonstrate your adventurers involvement and importance to the world than to let them hold sway over its’ political bodies and shape its’ history?
Players In Politics
Saving the princess is only the beginning. With that kind of endearing introduction to the royal family the group have a lot of chances to demonstrate their worth to the ruling class, and as their deeds spread amongst the people, they may find them selves with more political clout than they know what to do with.
Politics is an odd aspect of ay game, because ultimately it is down to the players to demonstrate a willingness and an aptitude for leadership. By your description you can show the group that they are looked to and respected, perhaps they are hailed on the street, raised as statues, or lauded by the media. Suppose then that the great nemesis or terrible catastrophe approaches and the ruling class are unwilling to lift a finger, what now? Do the group simply stand and fight because that’s what everyone expects? Or do they point the finger and publicly demand that the government take responsibility to defend their people?
Giving one or more members of the group a political position could create a lot of new opportunities. In between adventures they may be expected to attend meetings, directly influence the running of a city, a country, a planet! They may find new rivalries within their own office, even face assassination.
Players Vs. Politics
Any stable system of government would rightfully be strongly against allowing loose cannons to police their streets. As your group carve their explosive path of heroism and victory through the world they are equally as likely to face opposition as support from those in charge and their military. If the players don’t want to start a war they can’t win they may need to adjust their methods.
Or perhaps the government themselves are the enemy, and the group are noble rebels? How do you fight an opponent that are literally everywhere, and if they win what do they do next? Are they fit to rule, and even then will the people accept them?
As Things Get Complicated
By the time you’re confident enough in your skills as a DM to get yourself and your group embroiled in politics you may find yourself needing to outsource some of the book keeping to the party. Note-keeping is not something you need to consume yourself with (although I may have mentioned REPEATEDLY that you should be doing so) to the point where your role is lost to paperwork. Have your players keep track of their own political responsibilities.
Practice complicated organizational structures by giving your players a castle or ship or something similar. For example, a spaceship will need the following minimum requirements:
- Chef, or at least someone willing to cook for everyone
- Maintenance staff, or a rota for who’s cleaning the toilet every day.
All jobs quite manageable by a suitably diverse group, right? Well what if the ship gets bigger? One engineer isn’t going to cut it, and a couple of extra helmsmen might become necessary so one of them can sleep every so often. Depending on what the universe is like the ship may need one or two crew-mates who can use the guns.
Suddenly there are quite a few people on board, and they can’t take it in turns cooking every night. A chef is needed to monitor how much food the crew have and cook constantly so they can get three meals a day, and possibly an assistant or two. The ship is bigger and needs more regular cleaning and repair duties to be undertaken. Someone has to manage billeting and paying all these people, as well as attending to cargo manifests. Is anyone in the party an accountant?
Thirty four issues of DMing 101 and still ticking on. If you enjoy these articles as much as I enjoy writing them, or have any thoughts, stories, or questions about your DMing experiences, share them in the comments section down below or on Facebook! And don’t forget to share your favorite and funniest RP quotes and stories on QftT.